Sunday, 29 January 2012

Missing in action

Yes, its been a while. Things have been rather hectic at Wind Dancer Farm. Christmas was a time of friends, family, over-eating, fun, frivolity and WORK. I haven't written much (at all) in a while cause the days are so lovely and long, yet somehow not long enough!

We've been getting up later than normal (which is 6am for me, earlier for Wayne) and going to bed later and later. The days are sometimes perfect, sometimes too hot. The late afternoons are lovely and so long that instead of winding down, we gear up and do more. Its easier to get going once the heat of the day subsides.

Dinners have sneaked down to 8pm, watering the garden often after dinner, then some relaxing and catching up on movies late into the night. I've been working on a new photobook for our first year on the farm, it'll be our anniversary gift, so I have to have that finished in the next two weeks so I can get it printed in time. I'm about halfway there. Its actually great to look back and see how things have changed in just one year.

The paddocks are really dry looking now so Wayne has figured out the sprinkler system and has been watering areas to keep the grass growing for the horses. We had a call from the original owners of the place (they want a dog groomed!) and they came over to visit and see the changes we're making. They're really nice people and I look forward to getting to know them. Their daughter rides in a local riding club so I'm interested in finding out more about that. Anyway, they showed Wayne where pipes were (to hopefully avoid further "digging = holes in pipes" episodes) and how the irrigation system works.

Man... I must learn all this too!

Meanwhile Chris has been coming and staying for a week or two at a time and the 'boys' have been building our new deck while I've been spoiling Chris by cooking food and making desserts he loves. Its really an extension of the old deck (kind of joining the two smaller ones we had) and giving the old deck a new railing to match the new one and prettify it. We're also enclosing the original old front deck to make a mud room and bring the toilet inside. Which is a nice thing to have really. Don't get me wrong... I like getting fresh cold air when I go to the toilet late at night or early in the morning in winter, but an indoor toilet is considered to be quite the thing these days.

We love our new improved deck! Its made the ugly little house look a million times better even though its still not painted. I plan to stain the deck grey and will repaint the house a warm grey colour called White Pepper. The trims will all be Antique White USA. So far all I've done is undercoat the window frames.

Interesting story which proves that being brave/brash/brazen pays off. I'd been driving around dangerously for a long time, looking at houses as I drove to find the colour I wanted to paint our house. There's this gorgeous place near where I work which is a colour I adore. Of course, the house is also beautiful, something ours is definitely not. So, one day after work I put a note in their letterbox asking what the colours were. They send me an email with the names, I got sample pots and I'm ready to go!

So with the deck finsihed its a matter of waiting for the timber to dry out and I can get to painting. This the house before, with the awful blue window trims, yellow walls, sink and other paraphenalia:

And this is after with the extended deck (or as its become known around here, 'Wayne's Big Deck'):

So, as you can see, we haven't been slacking off around here. The guys have been flat out building and resting and going through an insane amount of beer in the good ol' aussie way. And I've been working on all kinds of odds and ends and grooming dogs.

I've made a sign for down near our front gate so grooming customers know they have the right house. I used a poodle cut out a friend gave me as a gift a few years ago. It seemed appropriate. Looks kinda funny in the australian bush setting...

I made a lead hanger for my grooming customers as I'm always forgetting which lead goes with which dog. I took 2 offcuts of decking from the growing pile on our front lawn, and joined them together to make an L shape so I would have a small shelf. I then painted them using sample pots I had on hand - a dark grey and a pale green. Very retro colours.

I think got out my collection of old knobs which I've been picking up at tip shops* or anywhere. These aren't antique knobs, just mismatched knobs. I used glue to stick them onto the timber as most of them were broken (hence why they were at the tip shop). I had to drill holes into the timber for some of them to sit in properly.

Once dry I screwed the shelf onto the wall between the hydrobath room and the grooming room, clearly visible and in easy reach.

I then found an old piece of coreflute sign which I'd kept for some obscure yet very handy reason. In the spirit of recycling materials on hand I undercoated it with prepcoat and then painted it with chalkboard paint... which turns out to be oil based. Sheesh. I wish I'd read the tin before I bought it. Another brush bites the dust.

However, the result is one I'm really happy with. A handy spot for customer dog leads, a place to put business cards so customers see them, and a little poodle figurine which I rescued from the throw out pile at one tip shop. I like it.

*Tip shops are recycle/reclaim centres where things other people throw away are sold. One person's junk is another's treasure.


Monday, 9 January 2012

Eat and be merry

Things really have been busy around here lately. We are now 2 weeks down of our 3 week holiday and I'm trying hard not to think too much about work looming closer by the day. That'll ruin your holiday every time.

For the last 2 weeks we've pretty much had a full house. Wayne's friend Chris has been up here helping with the stable and with the deck rennovation, and his daughter Caitlin is over visiting. The guys have been working their butts off - I can hear Wayne swearing all over the place when things don't go the way he wants them to. Chris says Wayne's nickname should be Breaky or Smashy cause those seem to be his strengths.

Still, things are getting done. Today I got to use the nail gun to put down some decking. My first time with a nail gun (and this is nail gun 3.0*. I'm already looking for other things to nail down... Hm... If it moves and it shouldn't, nail it there. One of these days Wayne will come home and find I put his boots 'in their place' and nailed them there.

The saga of the nail gun
Wayne bought me a nail gun pack for my birthday. Basically, brad nailers of different sizes. All very well till we tried to buy nails for them. Apparently Bunnings sells these home quality nail guns but you can't get nails for them to do real jobs. So I took it back and exchanged it for another nail gun, a coil gun this time - not a pack and for more money, and once again... guess what? Bunnings doesn't sell nails for it! So I drove around town looking for a specialist store who would sell the nails I needed. Found them. Great! Get home and guess what? The nail gun will take the nails but they don't work! So this morning I chose to withdraw from the adventure. I sent the guys into town on the 'great nail gun' search. They returned the gun to Bunnings (again) and went to Mitre 10 where they found a nail gun which fit the nails AND (would you believe it?) actually nailed them!

I've been cooking up a storm too. For the first time in my life I understand how people gain weight on holidays! Normally I'm too busy to eat too much, but with guests food is a bit more important. We've had scones with cream and jam. Cheesecake. Chocolate cake. Thai green curry. Fettucine with mushroom cream sauce. Lasagne.Pasta Amatriciana. Home made pizza. Heaps of salads. Home made pickled beetroot from our garden.

Which brings me back to the garden. Its going well. Too well! Even the eggplants seem to have bounced back from being chewed on by bugs. The lettuces are ready now and I've discovered something about myself: I prefer my vegies clean and bug free, preferably wrapped in plastic.

I'm also learning lessons about how far apart to plant some things, never to plant anything close to the brocoli or it will be completely overwhelmed by its huge leaves, and not to plant things I don't know how to cook cause they just grow and grow and I have to kill them.

We've been out and about a few times too. Took Caitlin to Salamanca Market and to see the yachts from the Sydney to Hobart race.

And the gorgeous sculptures at Constitution Dock.

I took her to visit Cascade and to the tip shops cause I thought she needed to be exposed to the bountiful possibilities of tip shopping.

I introduced her to Banjo's house cakes (a Tasmanian institution) and gave her dog grooming lessons.

(Tip shops are recycling centres for things people throw away.)

I'm exhausted!


Goodbye bandicoot

On the way to Cadbury's yesterday I decided to take the scenic route just 'because'. I spotted a tiny creature on the road and pulled over the minute I saw what it was. A bandicoot.

These little creatures are nocturnal so this little fellow should not have been out on the road during the day. And he was moving very slowly. I jumped out of the car and grabbed him before the truck barrelling towards me got too close.

The poor little thing was breathing heavily, its heart beating rapidly. It didn't look hurt on the outside but something was definitely wrong with it. I asked Caitlin to hold it in her jumper (to keep it quiet in the dark) and I headed towards the closest vet.

On the way there I asked how it was going, had it settled down.

It was dead.

I can't describe how devastated I felt. I adore bandicoots, like so many native animals. And this little guy was so cute... I really wanted to save him. He was tiny, fully grown but still a youngster. He fit in my hand easily.

But when he was dead, he was so... dead. No other way to put it. He wasn't limp and dead, he was almost immediately stiff and dead. He seemed to lose all his flexibility, his little legs just stuck out. It was just so sad to see him lose the spark of life.

It made me think about all my loved pets who I've lost. I was there to hold Billy and Scooter when they crossed over. I wasn't there for Timmy or Pagan. Someone else was there for them. With Billy and Scooter they were gone and suddenly they were limp, heavier somehow. With the bandicoot it was different. I dont know why. Maybe it was my imagination and not reality, but with them it was like they just left their bodies, surrendered them and left them with me as they crossed over.

I dread to think of losing my poodles. When I think of the day I'll have to say goodbye to them, or to Barney and Mischa, or the horses, I don't think I can face it. I tell them every day how much I love them. I hope its enough.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Why I need to start drinking

Today is a day I'll never get back. It started innocently enough. Caitlin and I went to the Cadbury factory in Claremont to see the end of the marathon and to visit the chocolate shop. A real non-event. Since they stopped doing factory tours (I mean, who doesn't want to see huge vats of liquid chocolate?) there seems no point in visiting Cadbury's. We wandered in, looked around and left. We then visited the Glenorchy Sunday Market at the showgrounds... just another market, therefore nothing special. 

So we then decided we'd visit MONA, the Tasmanian Museum of Old and New Art.

Hmph. Maybe MOANa is a better name.

Its a very interesting looking building on the bank of the Derwent River just inside the Moorilla Estate Vineyards. The vineyards are gorgeous, as are the surrounds, the buildings and the views.

There was a sewery smell on the air which seemed an omen of what was to come, cause let me tell you, it was crap. Literally. One of the exhibits was a panel of monitors showing various videos on loop. One was a worm's eye view of someone taking a big dump.


It was one of the first things we saw when we entered the catacombs of the building ("Go straight to the bottom floor and work your way up" we were told by the helpful staff who gave us an ipad to guide us through the museum.

I know why they want you to start at the bottom. So you can't just simply walk out! I thought I'd never find my way out of there at one stage.

The other art and installations included such intriguing items as:

Pig skins with tattoos on them, accompanied by video of the tattooed pigs in their pens while still alive.
A sculpture of a man, hung upside down with what looked like his skin melting/peeling off.
An installation of a group of male mannequins who'd been castrated, hung upside down and dismembered.
Videos of all sorts of things which defy description.
A sculpture of a dead horse, hung from a rope around its middle.

My personal favourite - letterhead paper with what looked like, at first glance, kisses in lipstick, but upon closer inspection proved to be the puckered lips of an entirely different part of the human anatomy. Tasteful.
An entire room of x-rays of rats, including one crucified rat with onlookers.
Hundreds of plaster casts of womens' genitalia. That one really gets me. Did this guy (woman?) have sex with all these women or did he actually just approach them and say 'Hey, I'm an artist and I'd really like to take a plaster cast of your pussy'.

Seriously. This is art? There were some beautiful items in amongst all the disgusting, disturbing, gratuitously shocking crap, but for the most part it was unadulterated crap.

No, really Zefi, tell us how you really feel. Don't hold back now!

I have a real problem with "Its art cause I call myself an artist and I say its art"....

If I'm offending people (like the artists, after all, they have feelings too), then so be it., though I doubt it. I'm sure this is the reaction they want. I just cannot understand how videos of someone stabbing himself so his guts fall out, or someone urinating and defecating can be art. 

Leonardo is turning over in his grave as we speak!

This is why I have a real problem with being an ARTIST, why I will now go ahead and believe the idiot art lecturer that told me, at art school, that I would never amount to anything cause I had no 'theory' (ie bullshit) behind my work*. If that's so, fine. I'd rather be someone who can produce beautiful pieces of work than someone who smears excrement on photos of vaginas and amputated penises then spews forth theories of my work and what it all means.

*The particular lecturer raved on and on about the work of a fellow student who's bland, murky, tonal abstracts "showed the futility of living in an urban landscape and people's struggle to come to terms with their life in the inner city, blah blah". Then turned to me and asked what my work was about. I said "This is a leather jacket, this is noodles, this is licorice and this is a fish". I could have given him a lot of crap about focusing in on small objects and blowing things up to the point where the object almost unrecognisable - the images were about the light and dark, shapes, curves, more like landscapes than a jacket, noodles, licorce or fish. But I didn't. My work is what it is. Like it or lump it. I shouldn't have to explain or justify my work. If that makes me less of an artist than the guy who put lipstick on his asshole and pressed it to letterhead, then GREAT.